If you're one of the 1.9 million New Zealanders currently using
social media websites, then you'll know how useful these websites
can be for staying connected to the people around you, spreading
information and building relationships.
As websites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn
become a part of life for millions of people around the world,
businesses are starting to realise the potential these sites have
to reach consumers and engage them in conversations.
Tourism New Zealand is already making use of social media
platforms in its marketing activity. Chief Executive George Hickton
says they offer a cost effective way to reach carefully targeted
groups of consumers online.
The most high-profile example of Tourism New Zealand's social
media activity has been the 'Have Your Say' campaign on YouTube,
which saw a mobile recording studio tour the length and breadth of
New Zealand during summer.
Over 1,500 video diaries were recorded by travellers and
published on a 'Have Your Say' YouTube channel. Videos were
viewed a total of 120,000 times and the initiative achieved global
publicity as a unique way of promoting a tourism destination.
"Word-of-mouth recommendations are one of the most powerful
motivators for people thinking about booking a New Zealand
holiday," says George Hickton.
"This project allowed us to capture recommendations from
visitors already here in New Zealand and send them out to a global
audience in a cost effective way."
He says the initiative was a positive step forward in the use of
social media to market New Zealand and built on other initiatives
that have been underway for some time.
"In 2007 we launched our new 'Forever Young' 100% Pure New
Zealand television commercial by taking over YouTube's global
homepage for 24 hours. During that time the television commercial
was viewed 600,000 times," he says.
The commercial has now been viewed over one million times and is
one of 91 videos available on Tourism New Zealand's YouTube channel.
Joining the conversation
Tourism New Zealand's 100% Pure New Zealand Facebook page was set up
in November and now has almost 3,000 fans. 'Fans' of New Zealand
can see videos of New Zealand on the page, upload their own photos,
add comments or join discussions.
George Hickton says the Facebook page has become a popular way
for young people with a passion for New Zealand to connect with
each other or learn more about what the country offers as a
"We get about 100 new fans a week on Facebook, so the number of
people exposed to messages about New Zealand is growing
Tourism New Zealand also encourages visitors to blog about their
holiday experiences on our consumer website, www.newzealand.com, and works with high-profile
travel and celebrity bloggers as part of our international media
We also have a Twitter account - @PureNewZealand - which 'tweets' holiday deals
and New Zealand news to 3,288 'followers' and answers questions
about New Zealand direct from Twitter users.
Catching the Wave
Consumers are using social media more and more to research
holiday destinations and seek recommendations from their online
networks, and there are real opportunities for operators to
participate in these conversations if they are active in social
The trick is to 'be helpful' and publish information that people
want to read. Remember that online consumers choose to listen to
what you have to say, but they can also choose to walk away if they
are bombarded with information they don't want or need.
It's important to understand each of the social media platforms
before joining conversations - companies should sign up and listen
to the kinds of conversations that are taking place before they
pipe up and start promoting their products.
There are a vast number of social media websites and they are
all different, so choose just a few (depending on where their
customers are) and commit to using these platforms well.
Also it is recommended that operators think about their social
marketing strategy and have guidelines for staff. As more and more
people from all walks of life become active in social media,
employees should be aware of what they can and can't say about
their work or their employer.
Read about one New Zealand
operator who is expanding her business using Twitter.
Tourism New Zealand social networking
Pure New Zealand
100% Pure New Zealand Facebook